MTA Events this Thursday through Sunday

long1 | Th | MTA Composer Forum presents: Florian Hollenweger. The Revolution is Hear! Sound Art, the Everyday, and Aural Awareness. 5pm, MIT Lewis Music Library, 14E-109.  Free. A reception will follow.

2 | Fri | Emerson Scholars Student Recital.  Ray Hua Wu ’16, piano. Shostakovich, Preludes, Op. 34, #16, 24; Wu, Barcarolle; Beethoven, Sonata Op. 109; Chopin, Nocturne, Op, 27, No. 2 and Scherzo, Op. 39. 12pm, Killian Hall.

2 | Fri | MIT Wind Ensemble, Frederick Harris, Jr., Music Director. Kenneth Amis, Assistant Conductor. Dana Wilson’s Day Dreams; Creston, Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Wind Ensemble, Tina Kambil, ’16, soloist; Toch, Spiel for Wind Ensemble; Gossec, Symphonie Militaire; Wagner: Elsa’s Procession from the Cathedral; Ticheli: Postcard. 8pm, Kresge Auditorium. Gen. adm. $5; Free via Eventbrite, to MIT community with MIT email. Tickets: and at the door.

3 | Sat | Outdoor Concert. Rambax, MIT Senegalese Drum Ensemble, Lamine Touré, director. 3pm Stratton Student Center Steps. Rain Location: Lobdell, 2nd Floor, Stratton Student Center.  Free.

3 | Sat | Guest Artist Concert. Robert Crowe, male soprano; with Laura Gulley, Baroque violin; Naama Lion, Baroque flute; Daniel Rowe, Baroque cello; Seungok Lee, harpsichord; Victor Coehlo, theorbo. Bach, The Musical Offering, BWV 1079 and Trio Sonata in G Major, BWV, 1038; Händel, Nine German Arias, HWV 202-210.  Introduction by Handel scholar, Ellen T. Harris, Professor of Music Emeritus. 7pm, Killian Hall. Free.

Robert Crowe, described by the New York Times as “a male soprano of staggering gifts,“ is a member of perhaps the world’s smallest vocal category. His education was completed at the Manhattan School of Music, after receiving a master of music from Boston University School for the Arts. In 1995 he was only the second countertenor (and first male soprano) to be a National Winner of the Metropolitan Opera Competition having his professional debut as ‘Cherubino’ at the Des Moines Metro Opera.  Mr. Crowe has sung on many stages in the US and in Europe.  He is completing a PhD in Historical Musicology specializing in the history of the castrati at Boston University.

4 | Sun | MIT Student Recitals
Emerson Scholar Student Recital. Stanislav Tsitkov ‘15, clarinet; Eileen Huang, piano. Françaix, Tema con Variazioni; Salieri, Carnivale de Venezia; Schumann, Fantasiestücke; Bruch, Selection from 8 Works for Clarinet and Viola. 

MIT Emerson Scholars Student Wind Recital.

2pm,  MIT Emerson Scholars Student Piano Recital.  Killian Hall.  Free.


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Keeril Makan receives Howard Fellowship

keerilmakan.sachs-1The Board of Administration of the George A. and Eliza Gardner Howard Foundation awarded nine $33,000 fellowships for the 2014-2015 academic year. The recipients represent the fields of History, Music, Musicology, Playwriting, and Theatre Studies.  One of two fellowships in the field of Music was awarded to Keeril Makan, MIT Associate Professor of Music, for his Abandon Fear for orchestra.

The George A. and Eliza Gardner Howard Foundation was established in 1952 by Nicea Howard in memory of her grandparents. Miss Howard had a special interest in furthering the personal development of promising individuals at the crucial middle stages of their careers in the liberal and creative arts.

More about the Howard Foundation here.


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MIT MTA’s Sara Brown’s production at ART reviewed

Sara BrownRead the Boston Globe Review of American Repertory Theater’s The Shape She Makes, with set design by Sara Brown, Lecturer in Theater Arts at MIT.   The play at the ART Oberon closes on the 27th.  Visit: ART:

“… Sara Brown’s set encloses the playing space — a mottled floor — with bleacher seats on three sides. It has the feel of a high-school basketball game, except for the Oberon bar, which forms the fourth wall. As you enter,….”

Read the Boston Globe review HERE.

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MIT Celebrates Boston Jazz Week 2014

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAApril 26 | Sat | Mark Harvey and the Aardvark Jazz Orchestra. New works for jazz orchestra including an Elegy for the victims of the Marathon bombing and SpaceWays, a centennial tribute to Sun Ra, as well as a performance of Harvey’s No Walls, the official song of Jazz Week 2014.  Celebrating Jazz Week in Boston and Jazz Appreciation Month in America.  8pm, Kresge Auditorium.  Free.

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Last chance to see The Pillowman!

Tonight and tomorrow night: The Pillowman by Martin McDonagh directed by Janet Sonenberg. 7:30pm, Kresge Little Theater. Admission is free.  Reserve tickets at
Pillowman Final

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Tonight and tomorrow in Kresge Auditorium

ChamberChorus18 | Fri | MIT Chamber Chorus, William Cutter, music director. Britten, Rejoice in the Lamb, Hymn to St. Cecilia, Flower Songs, Cantata Misericordium. 8pm, Kresge Auditorium.  General admission $5; Free, in advance only, to MIT community with MIT email address. Tickets: and at the door.


19 | Sat | MIT Gamelan Galak Tika, Dewa Alit, guest director. Performing a new work by Dewa Alit and Christine Southworth’s Supercollider for electric gamelan and string quartet. 8pm, Kresge Auditorium.  General admission $5; Free, in advance only to MIT community with MIT email address.  Tickets: and at the door.

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MTA Theater alum in NYC stage debut


Noah Arbesfeld ’13 performing with MTA’s Anna Kohler in Chang in a void Moon in NYC.

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REVIEW – Makan’s Letting Time Circle Through Us by Either Or

Matthew Guerrieri reviews Keeril Makan’s world premier by Either/Or



In the ever-futile quest to match up language with the experience of music, “meditative” is a useful shorthand, able to hint at a calm surface, a reflective cast, and an eloquent stillness all at once. (I’ve used it that way, certainly.) It is also, in the strictly literal sense, wrong. Keeril Makan’s Letting Time Circle Through Us really is meditative, in that, intentionally or not, it is true to the experience of meditation. It is a process and a journey, not a fixed state. And the journey isn’t always smooth.

Makan’s piece was performed by the New York-based ensemble Either/Or at MIT’s Killian Hall on April 5. It was the premiere of the full score. (The group introduced a 12-minute excerpt of the piece in Pittsburgh last fall.) Commissioned for the group through Meet The Composer (one of the last such commissions before the Meet The Composer/American Music Center merger), the work utilizes an unusual and somewhat distinct ensemble: cimbalom (David Shively), guitar (Dan Lippel), crotales and glockenspiel (Russell Greenberg), violin (Jennifer Choi), cello (Wendy Law), and piano (Taka Kigawa). It’s a sound world both ringing and atomized.

Letting Time Circle Through Us stretches a 50-minute canvas, broken up in a rondo-like way. The ritornello—almost ceremonially repetitious, marked by a rising major-second motive, a repeated, irregular inhalation—is repeatedly, sometimes suddenly interrupted by ideas that amass weight and shadow. The contrasting sections provide as much obstruction as variety, like formal parallels to the hindrances the Buddha warned about:

[T]here are these five obstructions, hindrances, corruptions of the mind, weakeners of wisdom. What five? Sensual desire is an obstruction, a hindrance, a corruption of the mind, a weakener of wisdom. Ill will is an obstruction … Sloth and torpor are an obstruction … Restlessness and remorse are an obstruction … Doubt is an obstruction … a weakener of wisdom. These are the five obstructions, hindrances, corruptions of the mind, weakeners of wisdom.

The practice of meditation is all about overcoming those hindrances—not by ignoring them, but instead by acknowledging them, examining them, because, to this way of thinking, by combining something bad (a hindrance) with something good (mindfulness), the good wins out.

That’s not to say Letting Time Circle Through Us is a triumphant piece. Its examination of its interruptions is dark and moody. Even the quieter contrasts are continually off balance: a 3/4+7/8 cimbalom pattern (later taken over by the piano) seeds a guitar line that upends the usual major/minor implications of the overtone series; a seemingly limpid piano loop is at hemiola odds with a string melody; a gentle gymnopedie is gradually encrusted with dense harmonies. The ostinati, more often than not, are inexact, almost-but-not-quite interlocking. (Points of arrival are less about dissonance and consonance than about a set of patterns finally settling, even into a clashing texture.) But there is a thread of optimism—that opening major second is constantly recontextualized, from a brooding, minor-scale la-ti to a hopeful, major-scale re-mi at the work’s climax.

And Letting Time Circle Through Us does, perhaps, embody the modest goal of any given meditation, that you end up a little farther along the path than when you started. Throughout the piece, the unusual instrumentation is used to constantly reimagine and translate timbres. The cimbalom’s buzz becomes a combination of guitar and pizzicato cello; piano and crotales trade their fraternal twin attack-and-decay sounds. During that gymnopedie section, Choi kept repeating the same note, but fingered on different strings. At the outset and the close of the piece, Shively and Lippell briefly utilized E-bows, an almost incorporeally delicate sound on cimbalom or acoustic guitar: in the beginning, an inchoate element, but by the end, a brief glimpse of, maybe, the instruments’ deeper natures. The way Letting Time Circle Through Us prompts and sustains that awareness is a considerable musical achievement.

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Elena Ruehr 2014 Guggenheim Fellow

Congratulations to Elena Ruehr!!!  She just received a Guggenheim Fellowship to write an opera with librettist Gretchen Henderson for Roomful of Teeth, an eight voice ensemble that she, MIT Music and Theater Arts, and CAST, Center for Art, Science and Technology will be hosting as Visiting Artists in residence at MIT in the fall. 

RUEHRElena Ruehr is a Lecturer in Music at MIT, where she won the Baker Undergraduate Teaching Award and has taught for 21 years, Dr. Elena Ruehr was the Walter Jackson Bate Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute (2007-2008) and composer in residence with the Boston Modern Orchestra (2000-2005).


She has four commercially released solo CDs. Her complete choral and orchestral works, Averno, (Trinity Church, Avie Records, 2012) called “sumptuously scored and full of soaring melodies and piquant harmonies” by The New York TimesHow She Danced: String Quartets of Elena Ruehr, described by Gramophone Magazine as “unspeakably gorgeous”; the opera Toussaint Before the Spirits (Opera Boston, Arsis, 2005) given a glowing review in Opera News that labeled Ruehr as “a composer to watch”; and her chamber music CD, Jane Wang considers the dragonfly (Albany, 2009) which has received national radio play.  Ruehr’s complete orchestral works recorded this season with the Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP Sound) will be released in 2014. It features the cello concerto, Cloud Atlas, with Jennifer Kloetzel as soloist.  Ruehr also has single tracks on a number of CDs, including a string orchestra piece, Shimmer, with the Metamorphosen Chamber Ensemble (Albany, 1999).  In addition to Ruehr’s commercially released CDs, two of her film scores are available on DVD: the Manhattan Trade School for Girls (named one of the 6 best DVDs of the year by TIME Magazine, 2008) and Deschutes Dritwood (2011), both released by the National Film Preservation Foundation.


Ruehr has had numerous and steady commissions since 1995, including TenFourteen and the San Francisco Chamber Music Players (it’s about time, expected 2014), the Cypress String Quartet (String Quartets #4 in 2005, #5 in 2009, and #6 in 2012) the Boston Modern Orchestra Project (Ladder to the Moon in 2003, Toussaint Before the Spirits in 2003, and Summer Days in 2013).  Her cello concerto, Cloud Atlas, was commissioned by the San Jose Chamber Orchestra and premiered in 2012.  Other commissioning groups include:  the Metamorphosen Chamber Ensemble, Lorelai and the Radcliffe Chorus, The Rockport Chamber Music Society, The Providence Singers, the Klein International String Competition, the Washington Chorus, Plymouth Music Minneapolis, MIT, the North Carolina Chamber Music Festival, and Dinsoaur Annex.


Ruehr’s work has been performed at the Kennedy Center, Jordan Hall, Symphony Hall, Minneapolis and by the Trinity Church and the Washington Chorus, among many others.  The Biava, Borremeo, Cypress, Lark, Shanghai, and ROCO string quartets have regularly performed her music internationally, as well as baritone Stephen Salters and violinist Irina Muresanu.   


Known for her collaborations with living writers, including Elizabeth Alexander, Margaret Atwood, Brendan Galvin, Louise Gluck, and Adrienne Rich, she has written a number of songs and choral works, three of which are featured on her CD Averno (Avie). A collaboration with novelist Madison Smart Bell and poet Elizabeth Spires, in conjunction with choreographer Nicola Hawkins, led to her opera, Toussaint Before the Spirits, featuring Stephen Salters in the title role in the production by Opera Boston in 2004.  







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Brody’s Operation Epsilon wins Four IRNE Awards


The cast of Operation Epsilon. Photo: A.R. Sinclair Photography.
Last night the Independent Reviewers of New England awarded The Nora Theatre Company’s production of Alan Brody’s play Operation Epsilon four IRNE Awards.

Best New Play, Midsize Theatre
Janie E. Howland, Best Set Design, Midsize Theatre
Best Ensemble, Midsize Theatre
Andy Sandberg, Best Director, Midsize Theatre

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